Lewes’s brave run in the Pensions HA Cup came to an end in a narrow defeat to National League side Old Loughtonians at the Southdown Club on Sunday.
Lewes were not overawed by the occasion and, roared on by a crowd of nearly 200, matched their Men’s England Hockey League Conference East opponents for long periods of the match.
In a closely-fought game few chances were created at either end and the game was ultimately decided by goals from penalty corners.
Loughtonians opened the scoring midway through the first from their third penalty corner, when James Jewell’s powerful flick flew into the roof of the net.
But Lewes did not buckle and equalised midway through the second half when, from their fourth penalty corner, a well-worked routine saw Matt Needle bury the ball in the right hand corner.
The goal sent the home crowd into raptures but sadly the visitors regained their lead almost immediately, and in frustrating circumstances.
A Lewes free hit was reversed for a comment to the umpire and Loughtonians took advantage, quickly catching the Lewes defence out of position and earning a penalty corner. Tom Sibley made no mistake with a low flick under goalkeeper Rory Jervis.
Lewes never let their heads drop and skipper Matt Clark encouraged his men forward in the final minutes. But despite late pressure the Loughtonians defence held firm to put them deservedly into the last eight, where they will face Bromley & Beckenham on February 9.
Lewes will hope to be able to take this performance into Saturday’s local derby in the league at home to Chichester at the Southdown Club (1.30pm).
The match was sponsored by the White Ribbon Campaign from Sussex Police who chose Gaston Golstein as the Lewes man of the match.
Lewes player/coach Mo Rahan said: “There was little to choose between the sides on the day and I was very pleased with our commitment and fitness levels.
“The home crowd was brilliant in supporting the team and we can go away with our heads held high on this performance.
“But we need to get straight back into it tomorrow with a tough league match against local rivals Chichester.”